EU ministers seal deal on half a trillion euro coronavirus rescue plan

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Europe has agreed the most important economic plan in its history

European Union finance ministers agreed on Thursday on half-a-trillion euros worth of support for their coronavirus-battered economies after weeks of wrangling that exposed painful divisions in the bloc headed for a steep recession.

EU powerhouse Germany, as well as France, put their feet down to end opposition from the Netherlands over attaching economic conditions to emergency credit for governments weathering the impacts of the pandemic, and after assurances for Italy that the bloc would show solidarity.

But the agreement does not mention joint debt issuance to finance recovery – something Italy, France and Spain pushed strongly for but which is a red line for Germany, the Netherlands, Finland and Austria.

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It only defers to the bloc’s 27 national leaders whether “innovative financial instruments” should be used.

French Finance Minister Bruno Le Maire said Europe has agreed the most important economic plan in its history.

Earlier on Thursday Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte warned that the EU’s very existence would be under threat if it could not come together to combat the pandemic.

Read more: financial post